The VCI – the statutory body responsible for regulating the veterinary professions – received 65 complaints last year, it has revealed in its latest report.
It said this equates to a 71% increase compared to 2020 and was the highest number received by its preliminary investigations committee since its formation 17 years ago.
An increased number of complaints received in 2021 is a trend observed across several health regulators last year, it says.
The council believes this may be related to an increased focus on health care professionals alongside several periods of lockdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It carried out the analysis to offer some detail on the complaints received and the grounds for those complaints, in an effort to “glean some learnings” given the increased level of complaints received.
38 of the complaints in 2021 related to the treatment of dogs, 10 regarded cats, 4 arose in relation to horses and 1 resulted from cattle.
As detailed in its reports, most complaints received every year relate to companion animals.
On the other hand, a minority of complaints relate to large animal treatment and care.
According to the VCI, in 2021:
- 35 complaints received were concerning inadequate veterinary care and treatment;
- 5 related to registrants’ communication with clients;
- 5 related to failure to provide evidence of professional indemnity insurance;
- 4 were regarding out of hours service;
- 4 were regarding animal welfare;
- 9 complaints related to employment matters, permitting the practice of veterinary medicine by unregistered persons, prescribing practices, certifications, pre-purchase examinations and failure to declare a conviction.
All complaints received are considered and determined by the VCI’s preliminary investigation committee.
It comprises veterinary practitioners and non-veterinary practitioner members who objectively consider the subject of the complaint.
Of the complaints received in 2021, 10 were determined to warrant an Inquiry before the Council’s Fitness to Practise Committee, which was the “highest figure ever” referred to the committee in a single year.
The spike in complaints in 2021 was likely due to a number of factors, the VCI said.
Factors include increased companion animal ownership alongside altered arrangements in veterinary practices for interaction with clients in the context of Covid-19 health and safety measures broadly introduced in 2020.
Currently, the number of complaints received by the Veterinary Council’s Preliminary Investigations Committee in 2022, stands at 24 as at end of August 2022, it revealed.
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